While his friends go to school, six-year-old Shah Fahad stays home battling cancer.
His parents have a hard time explaining to him why he can’t go to school like other children.
After being diagnosed with Pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (Cancer of the white blood cells) just three years ago, his world has never been the same. “When his condition started deteriorating, the doctor advised against sending him to school,” said Fahad’s father, Izharuddin.
To keep him distracted and prevent him from falling into depression, his parents bought a school bag and stationery items for him.
They plan to provide him some early informal education at home.
“He wants to become a pilot or a commander when he grows up. But his wish can only come true if he gets complete treatment. We have run of finances to do that,” he said.
Fahad needs 12 cycles of chemotherapy but has received only eight so far.
Izharuddin said, “I’ve tried to cover the cost of treatment by selling my lands in Gilgit but that’s all I had. Each cycle costs about Rs60,000 and I need another Rs400,000.”
His previous attempt to get financial support from Baitul Mal got him Rs30,000 — he was told the organisation was facing a financial crunch as it was diverting most of its funds to flood victims.
The father of two shifted from Gilgit to Rawalpindi in 2009 for his son’s treatment at Combined Military Hospital.
Fahad was earlier being treated at Agha Khan Hospital in Karachi, but due to long distances and hefty expenses, he had to switch hospitals.
His attempts at finding work in Rawalpindi remained unfruitful.
“I used to work with my father and brother in the fields — that was my only source of income. They’d send me money each month, but even they can’t afford to anymore.”
Izharuddin can be contacted at +92-346-5955006.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2012.